Renewable energies and your electric bill

The headline in the Washington Free Beacon was a no brainer, but reminds us that ignoring the downsides to well-intentioned policies can be costly.

Flawed California Energy Policy Aided By Federal Government Grants

Two recent reports by nonpartisan groups have raised major concerns regarding the negative effects of California’s push for increased reliance on renewable energies. One report by the Little Hoover Commission projects that California’s legal requirement that the state derive a third of its power from renewable sources by 2020 would lead to soaring costs and significant damage to the environment…

The massive amount of money coming in from the federal government in support of these projects is perhaps acting as an enabler to California’s rush into renewable energy. California companies received over $4 billion in Department of Energy loans as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, including giant loans of $1,124,110,000 to Mojave Solar, $646,000,000 to First Solar Electric, and $273,368,534 to (now-failed) Solyndra. The amount of federal money coming into California could be damaging to the state’s electricity system. A report by Stanford’s Hoover Institution finds that California’s massive dive into renewable energy is complicating California’s energy grid in ways that are sure to increase costs.

“California has the most ambitious—and complicated—renewable program in the United States. … No single law, regulatory decision, or document describes all policies and programs seeking to develop renewable power in the state, much less the many linkages (or lack thereof) among them,” the report states.

That lengthy Hoover Institution report, Renewable And Distributed Power In California, describes this regulatory maze, cautioning:

California and many other U.S. states will see more changes in their electricity systems over the next 15 years than they have in the past half-century. California has embarked upon an unprecedented effort to change, rapidly and fundamentally, the state’s electricity supply and delivery system. Utility-scale, fossil-fired power plants are being phased down. A new system driven by renewable and distributed power of all sizes and technologies, owned by customers, utilities, and third parties alike is being put in place. An overlay of demand-side resources and new information technology is likewise expanding. These ambitions have been crystallized through the state’s climate change law and net zero energy goals, the law mandating the use of renewable power for 33% of California’s electricity supply by 2020, and by Governor Brown’s goals to develop 12,000 MW of distributed generation by 2020 and 6,500 MW of combined heat and power (CHP) by 2030.

While much commentary has focused on the technological aspects of renewable and distributed power development, little attention has been paid to a fundamental question – are the traditional electric system regulator and utility institutional structures sufficient to support this massive transformation….

Stress in the institutional structure of California’s electricity system can already be observed. California has 11 programs for renewable power development, with differing goals, timelines, and criteria. Electric utilities are forecasting increased costs and rates after decades of relative stability. Equitable allocation of these costs across consumers with different and novel electricity service needs will likely require major changes in past practices….

6 responses to “Renewable energies and your electric bill

  1. With the result being an unstable grid and increasing rates. How would you like to pay the highest rates in the world for third-world service? That’s what will happen in California if they continue on this path.

  2. Germany is actually leading the way on renewable electricity. They have the second highest electricity rates in Europe (behind the Danish who are heavy into wind) and are looking at 15% rate increases this winter and more beyond that. And they still need a proper distribution system to get wind power from the north to the demand in the south (and the cost of the new distribution network will also end up in the bill). At least it’s sunny in California’s deserts for solar generation as opposed to the persistant cloudiness in much Germany.

  3. I’m fine with the Peoples Democratic Republic of California doing whatever they want with energy as long as I don’t have to pay for it. If they want to increase the cost of electricity and provide a less reliable system and the citizens vote for that, so be it. The problem is that California commits such silliness and then demands the rest of the country pay for it.

  4. only a fool builds a house without first counting the cost. Such fools, you don’t get rid of termites with a flame thrower, you don’t stop a leak in a boat by drilling another hole to let the water out, but apparently you save the environment by destroying the health and welfare of the people. Go Green, Go Brown.

  5. Minnesota is on the road to darkness as well. Our utility bills have been racheting upwards as more and more windmills are built and outrageous demands are made on traditional power plants for “clean air”.

    The windmills all froze up a winter or so ago.Someone forgot that the lubricants used don’t work at thirty below. We passed a law some long time ago forbidding building any more nuke plants. Solar panels work for about four months a year here as next to Seattle area we have the fewest sunshine days in the country. Etc., etc., etc. Yet, we are mandated to provide something like 20% of our energy from “renewables”. I’m glad I’m moving out in a couple years for the Tropics.

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